12 Great Movies the Critics Got Dead Wrong

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A look back at the classic films that had it rough when they debuted on the big screen

Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the initially panned 'Bonnie and Clyde' Warner Bros.


If you've paid much attention to film festival coverage over the past few months, you've probably heard a thing or two about a film called The Raid (it was later given the rather silly subtitle, Redemption, though I'll be damned if I recall anybody being redeemed in it). It screened at Toronto, Sundance, and SXSW, and it is a knockout—a powder keg of pure action, done with deadpan humor and hyperkinetic style. I saw it at an all-media screening at Sundance, and even among that jaded group, the audience literally gasped at loud at several points, and burst into applause at the end. It's terrific cinema.

And that's why so many people who have seen it are flipping out over Roger Ebert's inexplicable one-star review of the movie, which went online last night. He complains about the film's "wall-to-wall violence," cracks that "if I estimated the film has 10 minutes of dialogue, that would be generous," and says that the picture is "almost brutally cynical in its approach." This coming from a guy who gave three stars to Transformers and most of the Fast/Furious franchise.

Then again, as much as we love Mr. Ebert, this isn't the first time he got a great movie dead wrong. His one-star pan of Blue Velvet is still a head-scratcher; ditto the single star he awarded Wet Hot American Summer. And don't even get us started on that two-star review of the original Die Hard. The point is, sometimes the critics just plain get it wrong. Below, we'll take a look at a dozen classic movies, and the scribes who blew the call on them.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Jason Bailey is the film editor at Flavorwire, and has also written for Slate, Salon, and the Village Voice.

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